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2009 July

Parrot Blog > 2009 July | You are here

2009 July

Living With A Feather Plucking African Grey… Poppy's Story

July 8th, 2009
Poppy

Poppy

I want you to meet Poppy, or Peeweegirl as our family affectionately know her. She has been living with us for three and a half years now since she was a 17 week old baby grey. She has always been a friendly happy bird, a family bird and an affectionate little lady. She is a charmer and the heart and soul of the family..everyone adores her.

Let me tell you more about our family..I work as a classroom assistant, Poppy’s “partner” Alan works from home as a watercolour artist. My children Adam and Abbey are coming up for 8 and 7 and we have several other pets, two dalmations and a collie dog, two lovebirds, a cat, two fish and a hamster. It is a lively busy happy household where we all come and go..and right at the heart of our home is this beautiful little parrot, bought for my husband when he was 50, three years ago, but loved and cherished by us all.

Poppy & Family

Poppy & Family

She is out nearly all day, someone is always home with her, she has a wonderful diet,(if I do say so meself..) tidy mix supplemented with loads of fresh fruit and veg, chicken, hard boiled eggs, a bit of salmon,cheese loads of tasty things. We make sure she has 10 to 12 hours sleep a night, and like all of us she is grumpy next day when she doesn’t get it. She talks, all the time..Knows each of us by name although i am still Mummy..she will shout Alan mercilessly. Adam and Abbey get called all the time too. She loves Cbeebies and shouts “IgglePiggle” upon the appearance of In The Night Garden… she still shouts “Wellard” at Eastenders..and when Top Gear comes on she makes the noise of a screeching car going around the track..yells “Hamster” when Richard Hammond appears, (mainly for my benefit it has to be said). She beeps whenever a car pulls up outside my house, says hello whenever my phone rings at home, tells the kids to get to school in the morning and shouts up night night to them from under her bed blanket when they go to bed at night..She says and does so many things that our life would be black without her..and its not just that she talks..there is a place in my world that only she can ever fill. She only has to give me a certain look or a certain cuddle..She is my best friend.

So you can imagine how worried we were when she began plucking just before last christmas. I had decorated the living room as usual with the exception of a new christmas tree. Had I known then what I know now it would have never left its box..hindsight is a wonderful thing. We decorated the living room in all its glory, much tinsel and dancing singing things, and this new big tree pride of place in the living room. She eyed it with uncertainty and then left it alone..we thought she was being a good bird and told her so, fully expecting her to leave it alone instead of try and pull it down as she had in years gone by.

Christmas is a busy period, all shopping and rushing around. My baby suddenly found herself spending more time in her cage than normal as my husband and I tried to get all the shopping done together..normally I would have gone alone but hadn’t been too well this year so hubby was with me most of the time. And we left the heating on for Peewee as the weather was cold. Within a week or two we noticed the living room awash with white feather moult dust..we knew this was the wrong time of year and consulted her breeder, who told us not to wory it was just the heating and to turn it down a few degrees. The feathers kept coming..we put a bowl of water over the heaters to make the air more humid and bought some Aloe Vera juice and added it to her water bottle giving frequent baths. But it didn’t ease up it got worse and so did my bird..she began withdrawing and wouldn’t leave the cage..it became obvious she was terrified of the tree. As soon as Christmas was over we removed it, we would have taken it down sooner had the kids not been broken hearted at loosing their tree before Santa had been, as soon as was safe down it came..but by then the damage was done. Poppy had begun plucking herself around the back and her tail end..and she continued even after the tree had gone and the kids gone back to school and life was normal. We tried everything, new toys, distraction, keeping her soaked..more time with her, I even took time off work to be with her more. But by early January she had a big angry bare red patch of skin aroud her back end from chewing and plucking, I phoned the vet as I thought she may have an infection in the skin and she looked in pain. The vet was away and an appointment was made for a week that Monday to see him and discuss Poppy’s condition. That same morning my husband phoned our breeder whome we got Poppy off for advice as the skin was raw and we weren’t sure what to put on it without causing harm..He told us to apply Iodine solution..please I beg anyone reading this.. NEVER EVER EVER put Iodine on a bird.. I’ve learnt from bitter and painful experience. It burnt her…suddenly I was demanding to see the vet asap and never mind the holiday!! That first vet was awful..not an avian one and pretty clueless so I consulted the Parrot Society who reccommended a lovely gentleman. We registered with him and he saw Poppy the same day.

Then began what i can only describe as four months of hell and heartbreak. The first thing to do was get rid of infection so Poppy began a course of oral Baytrill that was to go on for months twice a day by mouth. We also had antibiotic cream to rub on the sore bit..which resulted in many bites to my husband and I. There was no obvious improvement so the vet switched her treatment to a steriod spray which we sprayed on the sore bit, Cortavance spray..and later steroid tablets for her to take crumbled up on a spoon.

February 14th, Valentine’s Day, a day I won’t ever forget. I was at my computer as I so often am early evening..I looked up and blood was pouring from what looked like Poppy’s bottom..and I mean pouring. For weeks I had been fearful of an impacted preen gland or even an internal tumour..I was terrified something had gone badly wrong for her. My husband wrapped her in a warm towel and tried to stop the bleeding while I made all the arrangments, and at 7.30pm on a cold wet february night we rushed our baby to the surgery, for what we honestly thought was going to be the very last time. I can’t describe how I felt in that car holding her in my lap..I couldn’t see through my tears and I thought my heart was breaking. We had the children with us too and it was a sorry party who met the waiting vet that night. He examined her thoroughly and she was moaning and crying like a baby, so were my kids at the noises she was making. I was just shaking, trembling like a leaf. He looked inside her with what I can only describe as the tiniest of lamps..couldn’t find any tumours or other nasty things, but saw that she had torn the already inflamed skin with either her own beak or on something in the living room in flight. The vet stitched her up and gave her a little injection and we brought her home. I barely slept a wink that night but she pulled through. From then on it was weekly trips to the vets surgery for her. She lost loads of weight and her poo was like water, she looked ill and lost her sparkle. I began a frenzied search online for any information i could find..that was when i found several wonderful forums one of which was this one.. I was convinced my bird would die unles someone could help me. On the way I made some wonderful friends who i hope will be close for life.. I have learned so much..but still my bird was plucking..it was like a vicious circle..the feathers began to poke through and she pulled them out again. And again. And again. I grew obsessed with it..to the point of almost neglecting my family and home, all my spare time spent either with Poppy or online trying to get advise…

She was getting better finally..a new set of feathers growing..and staying there. I was considering a family holiday and also making plans to rehome two new greys which the whole family was looking forward to. We thought adding to our family would help Poppy, give her company and a new focus to help her keep from plucking. Then in April we had a burglary, the car got ruined and they attempted the house too. My parrot went nuts in the cage it was awful and heartbreaking to hear.

The police were at the house as you can imagine and everything was all over the place..that was a Friday night, by Sunday she had pulled the lot again and was back to square one…

I’m ashamed to say i lost it a bit.. I was very low and upset. We took her back to the vet who appeared at a loss, he said he could find no physical cause for the plucking now so it had to be emotional..stress related etc..he prescribed tranquilisers for Poppy. I remember breaking my heart and feeling that I had failed the bird I loved so much..Nothing I was doing could make her well.

Me & Poppy

Me & Poppy

I had a phone call from a concerned friend from this forum, this lady knows who she is and is a friend in a million I love her like a sister and owe her so much. She put me in touch with a lady on another forum who uses natural methods to nurse birds back to health. This lady is a remarkable soul, she has kept parrots for 40 years and is gifted at nursing them back to health. Through her friend she passed me a treatment plan for Poppy, and told me not to despair it would all work out. Here is how Poppy looked at her bottom end as I began this new treatment plan…

Peewee Underside

Peewee Underside

Very sore you will agree. I was advised to go shopping and buy her some Cyder Vinegar, some Palm Nut Oil, and some F10Sc and also some Guardian angel. Here is what I was advised to do with the items…

Red Palm & Canola Oil

Red Palm & Canola Oil

Aspall Cyder Vinegar

Aspall Cyder Vinegar

“Pop a teaspoon of cyder vinegar into the drinking water once a day..it will smell like scrumpy!! Perfectly safe to drink and that will help clean out the toxins from inside her little body (so will milk thistle if you have that it will help cleanse her liver too). As well as in her drinking water, fill your kitchen sink up with warm water and put a capful in it..and from this fill a 500ml spray bottle and bathe her with it..it will help improve her feather condition and also soothe the discomfort and prickle of bare skin patches and newly emerging feathers. This can be done as many times a day as you can. (It seemed odd to me as i have always been advised not to spray them too many times a day as it can dry out the skin) in this instance the theory is a wet bird cant or wont pluck, and as this is the bigger issue at the moment then try and keep her at least damp for much of the time if not saturated..” That was the hardest thing for me as I was convinced it would give Poppy a chill or make her skin more sore but it worked…

Now the palm nut oil.. This palm nut oil is reccommended because of the vitamins in it which a lot of pluckers are defficient in. I was advised to mix two teaspoons of palm nut oil with one of honey and a bit of butter and heat it all together in the microwave till its all runny, about 20 seconds..then drizzle it either on toast or better still on some of the fresh fruit or veg..all the parrots seem to go mad for it and it gets goodness into them.

I got a calcium and vitamin supplement and sprinkled that on Poppy’s food too, pluckers tend to be defficient in particularly vitamin A and calcium. Poppy loves this and eats her toast, but pluckers also benefit from foods rich in vitamin A, your “red” fruit and veg such as red peppers oranges carrots tomatos and so on.

After a full week of cyder vinegar spraying you are ready to move onto F10..this is an veterinary disinfectant that will kill any virus or outer infection on the bird causing them to pluck..its also good for feather condition..it’s what they use to treat bird flu apparantly. I had the horrors initially thinking it would be too harsh but I tried it and It does seem to work..Its F10 SC Sol Concentrate 100ml. It has to be the concentrate and not the ready to use/ ready diluted one. So on week two, carry on with the cyder vinegar drinking water, but in the spray bottle I put 1ml of F10 sc to 500ml of warm water..and spray as in week one with the cyder vinegar Then week 3 spray with Cyder vinegar again, and then week 4 with F10 etc etc etc.

As well as the spray treatments put 2 pinches of Guardian Angel a day over the fruit or veg feed plenty of fruit and veg and lots of orange/red fruits/veg ie red/orange peppers carrots sweet potatoes red grapes. the red foods provide the extra vitamin A content.Guardian angel is a natural herbal stress reliever for parrots so if birds are plucking from stress it will help them settle. Its available from many online pet suppliers.

As the weeks went by and I followed the above plan I was able to reduce the amount of times I spray Poppy per day..I have noticed an all round improvement in the condition and colour of her little feathers. I also bought F10 ointment to pop on the sore bits to help them heal from the inside out. It sounded a lot of hard work and a lot to remember but I was determined to try it, and I have to say it worked..as well as all the above treatments i bought Poppy some lovely new Pine toys to get her beak into..any parrot friendly toy will do as long as they can chew it..the theory being that if I give her beak something else to do while her feathers are wet, she will chew the toys instead…

Poppy Playing

Poppy Playing

I wasn’t sure any of this would work but I tried it…taking weekly photos of her progress as shown below

Peewee Underside

Peewee Underside

Peewee Topside

Peewee Topside

Peewee Sideways

Peewee Sideways

Peewee Bum

Peewee Bum

Peewee

Peewee

Peewee Feeding

Peewee Feeding

Peewee

Peewee

Peewee

Peewee

Peewee

Peewee

Peewee

Peewee

Peewee

Peewee

Peewee Better

Peewee Better

As you can see from viewing the above photos she is well on the road to recovery..I never thought I would see her in feather like that again I am so pleased and proud of her. She has been doing so well that I was able to take a much needed holiday last week with my childen to Towyn, knowing I could leave my baby with my husband and that she would be ok. I am happy to say that she hadn’t plucked on our return and there were tears all round when we were reunited… I feel I am finally having my beautiful bird back again..there is nobody like Poppy she is the light and the love of my life and I adore her with a passion, I only hope I get to enjoy many happy years with her in the future..I am devoted to her and I want the best for her always. That christmas tree that started all this will not be making an appearance this year I can tell you…

How she will progress in the future..I will keep you posted.

Much love Mandy and Poppy x.x.x.x.x.x.x.x.x.x.x.


Eric Our Feather Plucked Grey Has Settled In!

July 2nd, 2009

I said I would keep you up to date with how Eric is getting on so here is the update you have all been waiting for… Sorry it has taken so long what with all the parrots and children I look after time gets a little short and also we are getting married in just under 2 weeks now so I am busy with that also!

eric

Eric seems to have settled in really well, he was very quiet for the first few days but then soon started to show us what he could do! He is a very clever boy and can talk for England, the thing he says the most is ”do you want a bath mate!”, He loves his baths and he has a couple a day with luke warm water and a splash of Cyder Vinergar which is good for his feathers it will help improve his feather condition and also soothe the discomfort and prickle of bare skin patches and newly emerging feathers and hopefully stop him plucking them out. Also I add a drop in into the drinking water once a day it’s perfectly safe to drink and it will help clean out any toxins from inside him too.

He also loves his Palm nut oil on brown bread toast Yummy!

eric (2)

He is such a funny parrot, and makes me laugh each and everyday with the things he says and also his dances and phone conversations he has with himself.

He has plucked himself a bit more now which is to be expected with the move and change of house but he seems to be happy and has time out on a daily basis and I am sure he will settle down and hopefully grow back his feathers back, the big change must be strange for him going to live with a new family in a new house, it has not stopped his eating, he loves his food and fruit and veg and also his pulses which is good.

Here are a few photos of Eric… Will update again soon.

eric (3)

eric (4)

eric (5)


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Parrot Blog > 2009 July | You are here